the hot middle
The last two days have been focused on Finn. I brought him to work with me yesterday in hopes I could deliver him to his foster home on my lunch break. In preparation I turned the entire back section of the station wagon into a small barn stall. While the storm raged outside my goat lay quietly in his small den of hay, chewing cud and watching the storm from his warm front-row seat. Every so often I'd walk out to check on him, give him water or walk him on lead to stretch his legs, but he seemed to have other plans. Every time I came out to walk him he'd leap back inside and curl up in his nest. I didn't fight it. I'd wrap my scarf around my neck, dig my chin into my chest, and shiver and walk back inside myself. (I think Finn had the right idea there...)
When I got back inside I emailed his foster home, trying to make plans for the drop off. After a few back-and-forths both Abi and I agreed risking death to deliver livestock in a blizzard was a bad idea. So our plans were postponed till today. I won one last night with my goat.
When the work day was over the storm had passed and the temperature rose to nearly 40 degrees. The office parking lot was shining under the street lights, and not a single person was around when I returned to my car. I opened the hatch and watched him yawn and stand up. I snapped the lead to his collar. Together we walked in the perfect stillness of the corporate blacktop. A girl and her goat, in the glow of a street lamp, walking side by side in a weird place. This lasted moments but will stick with me the rest of my life: these days when the farm and my job melted into beautiful gasps of saturated instances like this. I wanted someone to see us, because it must have looked comical, then realized it was better alone. That was for him and me and it wasn't funny at all. It was goodbye.
When we got back to the cabin I let him leap out the back of the station wagon and knew the next time I would let him leap out of my car, it would be when I was bringing him to my new farmhouse. That sliver of my future was barely tasted, but understood. I have learned the subtle divinations a small farm grants us, not in tea leaves or tarot cards, but in the split second a goat jumps from the back of a beat up car. The whole world's in there I think—between the hairs and flash of black horn.
Finn went away today. He's in the loving and capable hands of Abi and Greg and their three children. I took him there on my lunch and let him run around the enclosure with two suspicious pacas. I could only stay a few moments, but that was best. When we started to leave the yard and Finn ran after me to follow me inside. My heart cracked a little at the fault lines. I waited till he was lost in close inspection of a dryer vent blowing warm air outside the house to slip away.
I cried on the drive back to work, half out of sadness for feeling like I abandoned him, and half out of gratitude for the kindness of his new family. The collateral damage from knowing I have to sink or swim is starting to wear me down and build me up at the same time. I'm treading water like never before, and feel like someone punched me in the jaw. I white-knuckled the steering wheel and promised myself I'd get my farm and get him back. He was going to jump out of this car again, no question.
No one tells you this stuff when you buy goat care books at Borders.
I spent most of the day fretting about Finn. Worried he'd be too much for the alpacas, that they'd reject him from their small herd. Or worse, that he'd head butt a toddler or eat the house paint. But tonight when I checked my email I found this:
Hi Jenna :)
I just panicked b/c I couldn't find Finn outside. So Greg went out to look for him and we couldn't see him because he was wedged between two Alpaca Fleeces! Snug and cozy in the hot middle! Lucky little guy!